Tennessee Car Insurance Laws

Auto insurance requirements in Tennessee

To be considered a legal driver, all Tennessee motorists are required to have a minimum limit of car insurance. Tennessee law requires drivers to carry liability coverage at the very least. While liability coverage is the only insurance required by the state of Tennessee, a bank or lien holder could require you to carry extra coverage if your vehicle is being financed (usually comprehensive and collision). Proof of insurance also known as proof of financial responsibility must be carried at all times when behind the wheel. 

Below you’ll find the minimum amounts of car insurance requirements for the state of Tennessee as laid out by the Tennessee Department of Revenue.


Minimum Liability Coverage: 25/50/15
$25,000 bodily injury per person
$50,000 bodily injury per accident
$15,000 property damage per accident


Liability coverage in Tennessee 

Tennessee financial responsibility law mandates that drivers pay for the accidents they cause. If you cause an accident, liability insurance covers those injured or who suffer damages. Liability insurance never covers your injuries or any damages to your property. It pays the other driver only.

This coverage is usually split into two different types: bodily injury liability and property damage liability. Bodily injury coverage kicks in to cover the medical costs associated with the car accident you caused. In many cases, this will also cover funeral expenses as well.

Property damage liability goes toward covering the cost of property damage caused by you. Typically, this will be the victim’s car, but is not limited to that. The limits for both of these types of coverage are explained in further detail below. 


What are state-mandated car insurance limits

Almost every state requires a minimum amount of insurance to be legally allowed to drive on the roads. The lowest amount of coverage that the state allows you to carry and still drive legally is known as the limit. These limits can be increased for a relatively low addition to your premium. 

The state of Tennessee requires that every driver maintains a minimum amount of liability insurance in the amounts listed above. You’ll often see this written out as 25/50/15. This is known as a split limit as it lists the limits of three separate amounts. These coverage types are per personper accident, and property damage.

Per person is the amount that will cover any single person injured in a car accident you cause. It will cover multiple people up to the “per accident” limit. 

The per accident limit applies if you injure more than one person in the same accident. It is the total amount that your insurance company will cover for bodily injuries you cause in any one accident. This limit is the total amount that your insurance company will pay out, though never paying over the “per person” limit for any one person.

Property damage per accident is the total dollar amount that an insurance company will cover for damages to another’s property caused by you. 

Tennessee allows this requirement to be met with what’s known as a combined single limit. Instead of separating the coverage between bodily injury and property damage, you are covered for the combined amount of $90,000. This gives you a little more flexibility in what is covered. Not all insurers provide such a policy, so you’ll need to contact them individually. 


Do Tennessee’s required minimums provide enough coverage? 

Tennessee car insurance minimums are higher than many states, but this can still leave you at risk. For example, a property damage liability minimum of only $15,000 can easily be exceeded in an accident, especially when considering the average price of a new car starts well above $20,000. If you cause an accident that damages more than one vehicle, the $15,000 limit is still the maximum amount that your insurance company will pay out.

It’s also important to remember how your bodily injury liability pays out as well. If you injure three people in a car accident, the most that your insurance will pay out for any one of them is $25,000, with the total amount capped at $50,000 for all three of them. 

As you can see, getting coverage above the state-mandated limits is highly recommended as minimum coverage limits are highly unlikely to provide enough coverage for many accidents. If you don’t want to be stuck paying the remainder of these costs out of pocket, consider bumping up your coverage limits for a modest added premium. 


Tennessee's penalties for driving without proof of insurance

Tennessee actively monitors whether or not vehicles are insured. If you operate a motor vehicle without the proper auto insurance coverage, you can expect to face some consequences, including fines and the loss of your driving privileges. Penalties for failure to show proof of insurance in Tennessee are as follows. 


  Fine Other Penalties
Each offense
$25 to $300 Drivers license suspension. Possible SR-22 required.


Needless to say, the above fines pale in comparison to what you’ll owe if you cause an auto accident that results in substantial bodily injury or property damage. 


Optional car insurance coverage in Tennessee

Tennessee law only requires liability insurance in order to be legal. However, it’s worth considering adding more coverage to your insurance policy to add further protection. 


CollisionCollision coverage pays to repair your vehicle if you collide with another driver or object (other than an animal). 

Comprehensive: Comprehensive coverage pays for the repair of non-collision damages to your vehicle. This includes perils like theft, damage from weather, and collisions with animals. Together, comprehensive and collision coverage are often referred to as “full coverage.”

Roadside assistanceIf you find yourself broken down on the side of the road, roadside coverage will help. Every insurance company has a slightly different variation of the coverage, but most will usually cover things like battery jumps, flat-tires, and towing costs. 

Medical payments: This covers medical and funeral costs for you and your passengers up to a specified amount.  

Uninsured motorist coverageUnfortunately, not all Tennessee drivers have car insurance coverage. If you find yourself injured at the hand of an uninsured driver, this coverage helps. It is meant to protect you in the event you suffer bodily injury or property damage from an uninsured motorist who is not able to cover your expenses.


Why adhering to Tennessee’s car insurance requirements is important

Tennessee car insurance laws are in place to keep you and others protected. While you hope you never have to use it, having the right car insurance policy can go a long way in keeping you, your family members, and your personal property protected. If you’re looking for the best car insurance rates, the best place to start is with the free insurance quotes from The Zebra

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